National Wildlife Refuge
|P.O. Box 645
Hobe Sound, FL 33475 - 0645
Phone Number: 561-546-6141
|Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Continued . . . There are 46 species of mammals known to occur on the refuge, including the Florida mouse, grey squirrel, raccoon, bobcat, gray fox, West Indian manatee, river otter, and the nine-banded armadillo. There are at least 30 species of frogs, toads, and amphibians on the refuge including the Florida scrub lizard, Southeastern five-lined skink, and the green anole. Up to 13 different snake species have been found on the refuge including the Southern black racer, Eastern indigo snake, Eastern Coachwhip, and dusky pygmy rattlesnake.
The refuge consists primarily of three basic and distinct plant communities: coastal sand dune and mangrove swamps on the Jupiter Island tract, and sand pine scrub forest on the mainland tract. Two other community types, tropical hardwood hammock and freshwater wetland, exist in very small pockets on both sections of the refuge as well.
The mainland tract habitat is composed of sand pine with an understory largely composed of scrub oaks, rosemary, and saw palmetto. A wildfire fire swept through 108 acres of the sand pine scrub in 1971, setting back succession to its earliest stage. The plants and animals of this community have evolved special adaptations that allow them to thrive in areas with high fire frequency and naturally poor soil conditions. Management is striving to mimic the natural phenomena of â€œdisturbanceâ€ to this community, through prescribed fire or mechanical harvesting, to help it maintain the biodiversity of the sand pine scrub community.
The Jupiter Island tract is comprised of mangrove swamp and coastal dune communities. The mangrove swamp lines the shores of the Indian River Lagoon and provides fisheries habitat and feeding opportunities for wading birds. Nearest the brackish water thrives red mangroves, gradually giving way to the less salt tolerant black mangroves and then white mangroves. Opportunistic invasive exotic plants like Brazilian pepper invade the fringes of the community and can displace much of it if not aggressively controlled.
The coastal sand dune community is divided into the fore dunes bordering the Atlantic beach and the more vegetated back dunes. On the fore dunes, normally only pioneer plants such as sea oats, sea purslane, and railroad vines are able to survive in a harsh environment of shifting sand and salt spray. Unfortunately, Australian pine, a salt tolerant invasive exotic tree, severely invades the dune, displacing native species and interfering with sea turtle nesting. A rigorous removal and control program, starting in 1983 and continuing today, has nearly eliminated all mature Australian pines from the fore dune. However, the back dunes remain infested. Beach naupaka (Scaevola frutescens) has become an increasing problem on the dune as well. The back dunes are characterized by such woody plants as sea grape, wax myrtle, saw palmetto, and an occasional cabbage palm. Such plants, especially the fore dune type, play an important role in stabilizing dune soils and slowing the rate of erosion.
The refuge is also rich in cultural resources. Several Indian middens and one shell ring are known to exist within the boundaries. Many more are found adjacent to the refuge. Middens are shown during special tours only. Growing lush on the nutrient rich shell mounds is the tropical hardwood hammock plant community. Although small and isolated, this community of about 25 acres provides nearly 30 percent of the total plant species diversity of the refuge. A few of the tree species found there are gumbo limbo, poison wood, marlberry, and strangler fig. Come visit and enjoy a little of what old Florida use to look like! You might be treated to the sight of a scrub jay on the trail or a sea turtle on a special turtle walk. You will definitely enjoy the beauty of Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge!
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